Since discovering Nekisia Davis’ olive oil maple granola recipe on FOOD52, I’ve made it countless times. I make big batches of it for my sons, but every time, I shamelessly strip mine the fragrant, olive oil- drenched, maple-scented toasted pecans. So I figured, why not just make the nuts and use them as the primary ingredient in a cookie? The dough is based on the ubiquitous holiday nut crescent for which there are dozens of similar recipes floating around. I started with the one my mother most likely clipped from a “Woman’s Day” or “Family Circle” magazine in the sixties. These are chewier – and tastier – due to the crumbled pralines inside each one. They take a bit longer to make, but the results are well worth the effort. Enjoy!! ;o)
For the nuts:
8 ounces coarsely chopped pecan piece
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (something decent, but relatively inexpensive)
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 heaping tablespoon dark brown sugar
For the cookie dough:
1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter (salted is okay, but omit the salt below)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or high quality vanilla extract, but the paste gives it a better flavor)
2 teaspoons water
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
Confectioners’ sugar for rolling the cookies (about a cup or so)
In a medium bowl, toss the pecans well with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the maple syrup and the brown sugar, so all of the pecans are well coated. Let them sit in the bowl for about two hours, or more if you have the time. (The longer, the better.)
Heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (or 275 if using a convection oven and the manufacturer recommends a 25 degree reduction).
Spread the coated nuts and any crumbs on a parchment lined medium baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes, turning the nuts over after about 12 minutes. Check them at about 10 minutes and then after 18, to make sure they don’t darken too much. Let them cool on the sheet, stirring them about occasionally to help with the cooling process.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and olive oil with the sugar until light and creamy. If using an electric mixer, medium speed works well here, taking about 4 minutes.
Add the vanilla paste and water; scrape down the sides of the bowl; and beat until well combined.
Chop the pralined pecan pieces into small bits. (I do this by pulsing them briefly about 15 - 20 times in my food processor. You don’t want to grind them up too much, or you’ll get a sugary pecan butter.) Add to the creamed butter with the flour. With a large spoon, stir to incorporate fully.
At this point, you can chill the dough for about an hour, and then shape the cookies and bake them. Like many cookies, however, these taste much better if you let the dough rest for at least 24 hours in the fridge. If you do, divide the dough into four equal portions and roll each into an 8-inch log. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
When ready to bake, heat your oven to 325 degrees, or 300 if you’re using a convection oven and the manufacturer recommends a reduction for baking.
Scoop or cut the dough into walnut-sized pieces, then roll them into balls and flatten them. Or, if you chilled the dough in logs, slice it into pieces that when rolled are about the size of walnuts; roll those into little logs, which you then shape into crescents, pinching the ends just a bit.
Bake for about 20 minutes. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet; then, roll the still warm cookies in sifted confectioners’ sugar.